Israel is home to the cheapest mobile data plans in the world, with 1GB of data costing an average of just $0.05, while the most expensive place is Equatorial Guinea, where the average cost of 1GB is $49.67.
The UK, meanwhile is 78th cheapest, with an average cost of $1.42. That’s according to a report from Cable.co.uk, which analysed data from 6,148 mobile data plans in 230 countries between 8 December 2020 and 25 February 2021.
The cheapest mobile data in Western Europe is in Italy in fourth place overall, where the average price of 1GB is $0.27. France ($0.41) is the second cheapest in Western Europe followed by San Marino ($0.43) and Denmark ($0.79).
Within Eastern Europe, Moldova ($0.32) is the cheapest, followed by Poland ($0.64), Macedonia ($0.96) and Romania ($1.18). Czech Republic is the most expensive in the region, with 1GB of data costing $8.15 on average. Of the Baltic nations, Lithuania is the cheapest at $1.38.
Asian nations make up over a quarter of the top 20 cheapest countries for mobile data, with both Bangladesh ($0.34) and Sri Lanka ($0.38) in the top ten. Only three Asian countries are more expensive than the global average of $4.21 – South Korea ($4.72), Taiwan ($5.67) and British Indian Ocean Territory, the most expensive in the region at $7.50.
All but one of the seven North African countries are in the cheapest half of the table. Algeria is the cheapest in North Africa at $0.51 and the most expensive in the region, Mauritania ($5.56), the only country to exceed the global average of $4.07. Northern Africa is the cheapest overall region in the world.
The average price of 1GB of mobile data in both Bermuda ($19.80) and Canada ($5.72) is in excess of the global average of $4.07. The US is the cheapest country in the region for the first time in this study, and now has an average cost of $3.33 per 1GB of data.
The cheapest mobile data plans in Central America can be found in Nicaragua, where 1GB of data costs $0.94 on average. Prices are somewhat steeper in El Salvador ($1.33) and Honduras ($1.56). The most expensive country in Central America is Panama, where an average 1GB costs $4.49.
In previous reports, in the middle of 2020 Cable.co.uk analysed more than half a billion broadband speed tests to rank 221 countries by average internet speed, and at the end of 2020 compared 3,288 broadband deals globally to reveal the cost of getting online in 211 countries. Data was also gathered last year to better understand the effect of Covid lockdown periods on global network speeds.
Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said: “Perhaps thanks to Covid and factors such as the industry focus on 5G rollout, the UK marketplace has failed to substantially better its value proposition over the last 12 months when it comes to the cost of mobile data. It has, in fact, when measured on the day increased pricing per 1GB of data on average.
"However, it should be noted that due to the increase in the number of unlimited data packages available – and indeed providers' propensity to push those to new customers – it is unlikely we will measure drops in data pricing matching those in previous years, which have largely come down to increases in data limits.
“Many of the cheapest countries in which to buy mobile data fall roughly into one of two categories. Some have excellent mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure and so providers are able to offer large amounts of data, which brings down the price per gigabyte. Others with less advanced broadband networks are heavily reliant on mobile data and the economy dictates that prices must be low, as that’s what people can afford.
“At the more expensive end of the list, we have countries where often the infrastructure isn’t great but also where consumption is very small. People are often buying data packages of just a tens of megabytes at a time, making a gigabyte a relatively large and therefore expensive amount of data to buy. Many countries in the middle of the list have good infrastructure and competitive mobile markets, and while their prices aren’t among the cheapest in the world they wouldn’t necessarily be considered expensive by its consumers.”